Tammy Meyen, a member of International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) workers Local 66 near Seattle, was recently hired as the recruitment and retention specialist for the International Training Institute (ITI), the educational arm of the unionized sheet metal industry. In this role, she will focus on recruitment and retention efforts of apprentices at 150 training centers across the United States and Canada, finding ways to bring more people into the industry and help ensure they find it a welcoming environment.
“When I tell my kids about it, I say my job will be to go around the country and teach people to not be mean,” she joked.
The reality of her tasks is far more involved, of course. Women make up around 50% of the possible workforce, but still represent less than 5% of sheet metal workers. Initiatives such as offering lactation pods can help encourage women of childbearing age to consider the trades.
Meyen’s father was a union roofer, and she remembers him encouraging her to look into sheet metal, so they might someday work side-by-side on a job site. Thanks to him, she learned early that union brotherhood and sisterhood can be like family.
Meyen began her own career in 1999, at the age of 19 as an apprentice, and graduated near the top of her class at Western Washington Sheet Metal in 2005. Over the past 19 years, she worked at PSF Mechanical, one of the Northwest’s leading full-service commercial mechanical firms, rising to the position of shop foreperson in 2011.
At her home local, Meyen was a member of the finance committee and served multiple terms as a trustee. She was — and continues to be — a facilitator on the Belonging and Excellence for All (Be4All) Committee, a joint effort of SMART, the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) and the ITI. Today, she still serves as chair of Local 66’s women’s committee and heads that committee’s mentor program.
Meyen and her husband, a fellow sheet metal worker who serves as organizer with Local 66, live in Snohomish, Washington, with their two young daughters.